UCL Alumni


Alumni stories: Legally speaking with Béatrice Delmas-Linel

How Béatrice Delmas-Linel’s time at UCL helped her take the international law profession by storm.

Image of Beatrice Delmas-Linel

12 April 2022

From in-house counsel at Microsoft to co-founding the Paris office of the renowned international law firm Osborne Clarke, Béatrice Delmas-Linel (UCL LLM 1988) is a powerful force.

Known as one of the leading IT lawyers in France, Béatrice believes her 30-year career is rooted in her time studying at UCL. As a French-speaking student, UCL helped her to master the English language and define her own path in the legal profession – a powerful combination which has led her to great job opportunities in London, Paris, New York and Seattle. And she isn’t finished yet.

Following your interests

Béatrice grew up in the South of France, and her specific career journey began partly for financial reasons. “I didn’t come from a very wealthy background and studying law at a state university was pretty cheap and offered opportunities in the academic and public sector, as well as the private sector,” says Béatrice. “I had no vision that I would become a practitioner. But then I fell in love with it!”

This new-found passion for her subject took Béatrice to the University of Burgundy in 1987 to study International Business Law, and there she also met her future husband, Xavier.

The couple began to lay foundations for their careers, and the first challenge was to embrace an international approach. Béatrice says: “We couldn’t work in international business if we didn’t speak English fluently, so we needed to open our experience. We decided to join forces and study in the UK together.”

Broadening horizons

On arrival in London, Béatrice and Xavier set their sights on UCL. Béatrice says: “In 1988, there was no Erasmus programme so it was a big move. We still have vivid memories of the reception we got from the Head of Admissions. A fantastic woman. She was professional but kind and agreed to give us a chance even though our English was not strong enough in her view.”

After an intense three-week English language course, the couple could call UCL home, and it didn’t take long for Béatrice to find her feet. She enjoyed the engaging styles of teaching and lectures and found that the mix of education from France and England worked well.

She says: “The university was very ‘internationally open’. I still couldn’t speak English fluently, so it was hard for me to raise my hand and participate, but when I did there was patience and attention.”

The couple has many fond memories of their time at UCL and they felt inspired by the - in Béatrice’s words - “incredible international crowd at UCL”. They’re still in touch with their UCL friends from Germany, the Netherlands and Canada today.

Béatrice says: “Our time at UCL helped to broaden our horizons and our sense of adaptability, which is critical for a global career.

“For example, after we graduated, we both stayed and got jobs in London. I was Lawrence Graham LLP's first French intern, and after a year, they still hadn’t asked me to leave! It was clear that the fact we studied at UCL helped us to get the visa and a foot in the door for these great positions.”

Putting things into practice

After her working year in London, Béatrice's career truly skyrocketed. She took the bar in Paris then began her French legal career, specialising in IP, software piracy and protection during the early internet boom of mid-90s.

Her work caught the attention of one of her clients, Microsoft, who headhunted her for their fast-growing European headquarters in Paris, and just a few years later, their head office in Seattle. She says: “For a French lawyer, that wasn’t bad!”

After eight years at Microsoft as Associate General Counsel, including four years in the US, she returned to France and resumed her private practice at the French law firm De Gaulle Fleurance. After five years, Béatrice then took on a new momentous challenge – launching Osborne Clarke’s Paris office in 2013 as Managing Partner. From an office of just a handful of lawyers, Béatrice and her partners grew the team to close to 100 employees.

Nearly nine years later, Béatrice is now at Group Capgemini – a global leader in technology services. As General Counsel for France, Morocco and the South, and Central Europe region, she manages a team of about 80 members.

Inspiring the next generation

As well as building her own career, Béatrice has long been keen to promote female entrepreneurship. In 2010, at the initiative of long-standing friend and colleague Thaima Samman and with sponsorship from Microsoft and Orange (telecom), Béatrice co-founded the European Network for Women in Leadership. Its aims are to enable women leaders to meet, learn from each other and grow as people and professionals.

The network now has over 350 members across Europe and the public, academic and private sectors, and hosts regular cross-industry events tackling the big issues. It also hosts a unique leadership development programme, the Women Talent Pool (WTP), which coaches and promotes female leaders in tier one positions across Europe.

The UCL connection

Both Béatrice and Xavier - who is also a senior international business lawyer in the energy sector - regard their time at UCL as hugely influential. They both believe they wouldn’t have had the confidence to embark on such international careers without UCL.

So in 2019, they were thrilled when their youngest son joined the BA/BSc Arts & Sciences course. Béatrice says: “I think for both me and my husband, it was emotional. He started his degree before the pandemic, and we made the trip to Russell Square while in London with him in September 2019. We’re so proud because it was a great university at the time, and it’s an even more prestigious one today, and we just knew that he was going to be happy.”

Béatrice offers the same advice she gave to her son to other UCL students. “Don’t worry about making a wrong choice but be ready to make a move if that choice is wrong. A career is very long, and you need to keep your fuel and energy on top of your health. Make sure you retain your curiosity and passion.”